My friend Kelly, aka The Accidental Pharmacist, is asking for people to recommend their top 5 baby and toddler books. I decided to jump in. While I have no particular background in children’s literature, I’ve read a lot of it in the past 5 1/2 years. Sometimes over and over and over again. I can recite many of my kids’ books by heart – Goodnight Moon, But Not the Hippopotamus, Where is Baby’s Belly Button, Tikki Tikki Tembo. I’ve formulated my own ideas about what makes a good kids story.
Baby Hannah checking out a soft book
I think that for babies and young toddlers, the best stories are short and sweet. The books are sturdy with bright, colourful pictures. And as a bonus, I like a little something for myself. If I’m going to read the same story 257 times in a single day, I had better at least enjoy it. And so, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite books for my own wee ones:
Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosee and Barbara Lavallee: This book is about a little girl asking her mother how much she loves her. She poses a lot of different scenarios: What if I poured water on our lamp? What if I turned into a polar bear? Sometimes, her mother tells her that she would be angry or surprised or scared. But always she says that she would love her. It reinforces that even though parents may get mad at their kids sometimes, nothing can change their love for them. The book is set in the far north, and contains pictures and words that reflect traditional Inuit life. My 5-year-old Hannah has loved this book for a long time, and she frequently asks me to say the closing line for her: I will love you forever and for always, because you are my dear one.
Eco Babies Wear Green by Michelle Sinclair Colman and Nathalie Dion: This book is part of a series – in fact, we read Urban Babies Wear Black first. I enjoy Urban Babies, but not as much as Eco Babies. Probably because in my own life I aspire to be a not-so-urban eco mama. The book is short and simple, explaining that eco babies compost, recycle and so on. The illustrations show that the babies aren’t really composting, though – they’re throwing cereal on the floor, for example. My 5-year-old thinks this is hilarious. This series is light-hearted and fun, and makes us laugh at ourselves a little, which is a good thing.
Big Dog and Little Dog Making a Mistake by Dav Pilkey: Dav Pilkey is the author of the popular and funny Captain Underpants series, for school-aged kids. My daughter Hannah is just now getting into those. But we were first introduced to this hilarious children’s author via Big Dog and Little Dog. We have 4 of these books, and they continue to make me laugh. In this book, Big Dog and Little Dog chase a skunk, thinking it’s a cat. Predictably, they are sprayed. The text reads: “Big Dog smells bad. Little Dog smells bad, too.” For some reason this cracks me up Every. Time. Which is good, because I read it a lot.
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton: Sandra Boynton is a perennial hit, and with good reason. Her stories and illustrations are simple and easy to follow, she employs rhythm and rhyming, and she’s funny. We enjoy a lot of her stories, but this is our current favourite. I’ve made up actions to go along with the words, and my almost-2-year-old Jacob loves to play along. He laughs out loud when he gets the action in before I do, he really throws his whole self into it. Plus, I enjoy any children’s book that encourages sleep. I’m just saying.
Baby Beluga by Raffi and Ashley Wolff: I was a child of the 1980s, and Raffi and his music loomed large in my home. I remember listening to Baby Beluga on vinyl, and I sang along at top volume. So when Hannah was a baby, I bought the board book, and it has been the longstanding favourite of both of my children. Our copy is battered and taped, and still I sing the story more than any other. My own daughter now sings along with me at top volume, it’s very full-circle and I love it.
So, tell me. What are your favourite baby and toddler books? And what do you think makes for a good story for the under-3 crowd?
PS – Go visit Kelly’s blog because there is a giveaway of some kids books going on.
Disclosure: The books are affiliate links to Amazon.ca. If you were to click on one and buy it, I might get $0.27. Eventually.